Thursday, August 23, 2007

Coast-to-coast Journal, I-90 (with deviations)

My good friend and college housemate, Jake, aka Chris Madden, has signed up for the road-trip. There’s something about a road-trip that’s fundamentally attractive. And, I discovered when some people reacted to this with surprise and others with envy, it’s one of those things in life where either you get it or you don’t. I had several friends later tell me, “I wish I could have come, too.” That’s despite the fact that it’s long and there’s not much time to spare (sort of like a reality TV show: We have six days to make it to Boston, before Miles and my mom arrive by plane).

Day 1 – Wed., Aug. 22, 2007. -- We get a late start – there’s too much to do. Not just packing up the van, packing the house. The yard. By 11:30 am, we’re passing under Seattle’s “Portal to the Pacific,” heading East. Lunch in Ellensburg.
A pit stop at Gingko Petrified Forest (state park) – thought-provoking and memorable, every time I’ve been there. Giant trees made of stone. Jake’s never been to the region before and Grand Coulee is screaming to him from our map. Detour #1. We skirt Soap Lake (I summarize the story I did for NPR), and enter an incredible canyon country – the coulees. They’re remnants from ancient, monumental floods. Again, forces of nature so vast that you can't help but feel Awed. Grand Coulee Dam? No longer the “Mightiest thing ever built by a man,” but still a landmark. Dinner in Spokane, where we realize we’re desperately behind schedule. We had planned to get to Missoula. But it was already getting dark. We started calling ahead to hotels and found Missoula is totally booked. We settle for Wallace, Idaho, arriving at 9 pm. The only room left is the Presidential Suite – huge and overpriced (essentially like a room in a Days Inn with enough square footage for leg-wrestling) (which we did not attempt).

Sitting on a piece of petrified forest.

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